2010 Big Sur Marathon Report

on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 10:21 PM

Short story is I finished the Big Sur Marathon in 4:51:44. Had a great time. Perfect weather.I'm not sure I will have a lot to say.  This is one of those cases where pictures are worth a thousand words.

I arrived in San Francisco the Friday afternoon and drove to Carmel-by-the Sea. The weather wasn't so great and it was raining. Saturday things had cleared up and was looking to be quite the weekend. Steve who had the distinction of being the last official finisher of the 2010 Boston marathon came down from San Francisco and we caught up. Steve also introduced me to Hansi who is a 60-something runner who was also doing the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. She's actually quite fast and finished 4th in her age group at Boston and would end up finishing 1st in her age group at Big Sur.  Thanks to Steve for the picture.

Steve, Hansi and Me

 Went down to the expo to pick up my bib and bought some stuff at the expo.  I purchased some salt pills cause I thought they would help to try and avoid cramps.  I had bought a salt shaker while in Vegas hoping to increase my salt intake over the days leading up to Big Sur but when I tried, I just couldn't eat salt straight or even mixed with gatorade. Tasted too salty!  Ha. I suppose that was the point. Much better to just swallow it whole.

Went to the race sponsored pasta dinner and headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night. The buses to the start line would start leaving at 3:30am, with the last bus leaving at 4:15am and therefore required a very early wake-up call.  I had been trying to stay on eastern time so this wasn't too difficult.

Rode the bus to the start line staging area.  Still really dark outside.  Wandered around a bit, used the facilities and ate a bagel. Sat down and tried to collect myself.  Then headed to the start line.

Start Line

My original pie in the sky goal was to beat my time in Boston so I had a 4 hour pace band and positioned myself near the 4 hour pacer.  When the race started however, I had to immediately reconsider my goal.  The first little bit of the race is on a downhill.  I hadn't run at all since Boston and though I was feeling fine walking around the day before, it became immediately clear as soon as I starting running that my quads had not fully recovered.  They were achy.  Not painful mind you, but achy.  This was a new experience for me.  Realizing that I was about to run 26.2 miles on a hilly course with achy legs, I turned to plan B which was simply to finish.  I decided to run as slow as I could and then walk for a minute after every mile marker. 


There goes 4 hour pacer

Rather than stick to a fixed schedule, I ended up just walking whenever I felt like it.  This would happen for pretty much the whole race.  My achy legs never quite got better, but they never got worse so i suppose in the end it worked out well.  The mile markers in the race were quite humorous at times. Some with interesting sayings or jokes.

It's funny cause it's true!

At each mile marker, they would have volunteers calling out split times, average pace and expected finish times.  I got a picture of every mile marker except for the first one so rather than post all 25 of them, you can see them as part of the picture slide show below. The finish times being yelled out started out at 4 hours but would slowly start to increase.

There were a lot of musicians at the race, playing all types of different music. I've got some short videos of some of the musicians which I'll post later after I get them uploaded to Youtube.

Harp player

 The first little bit of the race is actually through a forest area so the view though scenic for a forest isn't that great.  The view however does slowly get better over the course of the marathon.

First scenic view of the ocean

So the race continues on. I had worn my Boston 2 Big Sur shirt and it was pretty amazing getting lots of cheers from fellow runners yelling "Go B2B".  Two girls who were doing the B2B had worn their Boston bib on their backs.  During one of my walk breaks, i encountered one Korean fellow wearing a B2B shirt (you can see him below), he was stretching out his back.  We would play leapfrog for most of the race.  The last I encountered of him he was really hurting.  I sure hope he was able to finish.

 There aren't a lot of spectators on the course, other than the musicians and at the aid stations, but with the scenery, there sure is a lot to look at. 

Blue Girl- Body paint or special type of sun screen?

So there's a first hill right during mile 9.  Mile marker is sorta funny.

That Pinocchio!

It's funny cause the hill to end all hills begins soon after this.  The hills leads up to a point called hurricane point which is quite far up.  The grade isn't so bad. I've run steeper.  It's just that the hill is so darned long.  You can get a sense of the hill from this picture.

Those little specs are people

At the base of the hill, they have people beating rhythmic drums to try and get you to charge up the hill.  

Photo op!

You then proceed to spend the next 2 to 3 miles climbing up to Hurricane Point.  They put a nice sign at almost the top of the hill for you to get you picture taken.  If you're racing up the hill, this certainly is the correct description.

It's funny cause it's true!

After you crest Hurricane Point, there's a slight downhill to the next interesting point which is the half way mark and Bixby Bridge which is famous for having the Grand Piano and a pianist playing.

I gotta run over there?

Once you get to the bridge, you encounter the wonderful sounds of a piano playing all sorts of different types of music.  You can see my previous post for a video of the piano player.

Getting closer...
I'm here!

 I'm not sure when i crossed the half mark.  They had a timing mat there, but they don't seem to have published split times.  I seem to remember it being between 2:20 and 2:30 which seems to coincide with the drop in heart rate on my monitor when I stopped for 5 minutes or so to record the video and enjoy the piano a bit. At this point, I remember thinking that beating 5 hours would be a doable goal.

Some more scenery.

Those Kenyans
More scenery.
More piano playing.  Not quite the same, but he was quite good!

Up until this point, I had been doing the walk and run thing and it had worked out quite well.  Somewhere during this time, I encountered Jeff Galloway and his group.  Galloway was doing a run walk thing and was aiming for a 5 hour marathon.  I would leap frog with him for a little while but I realized that my legs weren't getting worse so I thought it might be possible to bump up the pace a bit.  I would still do the walk breaks but would be a little faster on the run portion.

hmmm, strawberries.

Continued on and as I pass the 26 mile marker, I decide to bump up the pace a bit trying to pass some people so that I can position myself so I can get a nice finish line picture. All of a sudden, I guy I had passed decides he doesn't like being passed and starts to run faster to pass me. I suppose the testosterone got the better of me and I turned the jets on. When he realized that he couldn't stick with me, he just yelled "screw it" and slowed down.  My finish line pic looks like I'm grimicing in pain, but I'm actually laughing at the whole situation. 

So final finish time of 4:51.  Got my medals, my bib and the jacket which I quite like.  Ended up wearing it around for the next few days even though it was clearly too warm to be wearing. I bumped into a few others wearing the jacket in the days following and we would nod our heads acknowledging each others achievement.


Went to the post race party and met up with Loves2Run.

I really had a fun time.  Not quite sure that it's better than Boston.  Sure it's more scenic and more interesting than Boston, but the fans are what makes Boston great.  I do however agree with Bart Yasso in that if you could only do one marathon in your lifetime, it should probably be Big Sur.  Would I do it again?  For sure!  I just don't think I'd do the Boston 2 Big Sur thing again.  In fact, almost all the B2B participants I talked to afterward said they would never do it again. Mind you, this was mere hours after having completed it so understandably people have no interest in subjecting themselves to the feeling again.  Given time, they (including me) might change their minds.

As you can tell from the pictures, it was almost perfect weather.  Not a cloud in the sky.  The sun was beating down on us for most of the race, but the breeze coming of the ocean helped to keep us cool  I ran the race with a white long sleeve t-shirt and think that was the right call.

Very challenging course. Couldn't imagine trying to race on this course. 

Well that's about it.  Spent a couple of extra days in Carmel, Monterey and then San Francisco.  You can see more pics from the days follow below.


Love2Run said...

Nice race report, it definitely was the most beautiful surroundings you could imagine. I'd love to do it again too!

Robin said...

Great race report and beautiful photos! Nice bling too!